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Rewiring U.S. floor lamps to run on German voltage

41 posts in this topic

Posted

Hey TT,

 

I've been quietly reading this most excellent forum for the past few months, getting tons of my questions answered so that my relocation-from-US freak-out quotient was a bit less. Anyway, I just completed my recon trip to Munich to find a place to live, in anticipation of moving in January, and while I still have many questions, I figure I can bumble my way through without boring TT with rudimentary stuff.

 

However... one topic I have not found addressed on TT involves getting US floor lamps rewired so that they run on German electricity. These are great lamps that we really want to bring over and which would look great in our new place. And by new wiring, I don't mean getting voltage adaptors, I mean finding an electrician capable of ripping out the old US wiring and putting in German wiring and plugs that can handle the German voltage. The lamps are pretty simple, wiring-wise, so it seems that it should be pretty easy (this coming from a non-electrician). Anyone know of a good tradesman who can handle the job? Unless, of course, just getting a voltage adaptor would be a cheaper and easier solution.

 

Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks a mint.

 

Also, is 250,000 euros a year enough to live on in Munich? I hear it's kind of expensive. Kidding...kidding.

 

Cheers, and looking forward to meeting you lot,

Mark

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Posted

Since the voltage is higher, the same illumination takes about half the amps, and that's what is really important when it comes to wires. Since you'll be using less amps for the same illumination with your floor lamps, you can just cut the plug and get new "german" plugs from any hardware store (OBI, Toom, etc.) and do it yourself.

 

Also, you'll need to change your bulbs to 240V bulbs.

 

That's what we did with all our floor lamps when we came over from North America a year ago.

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Posted

You don't even need to go thru any of that. Just got unpacked lamps and all! I'm not super techical ...so please excuse the simpleness of this explanation below:

 

Just make sure you have plug adaptersfor your lamps. Then buy a German light bulb when you get here. If you use a US bulb it will burst.

 

The lamp's wiring seems to "adjust" and works! Sorta like a cell phone or laptop.

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Posted

 

The lamp's wiring seems to "adjust" and works! Sorta like a cell phone or laptop.

WTF? Please...

 

If you have a simple floor-lamp with a simple switch and a normal mains-voltage incandescent bulb in it, you can get a European plug put on the cord (or use an adapter), and put in a 220V light-bulb, as suggested. (The US bulbs will not handle 220V, and will probably fail impressively within seconds.)

 

Halogen lights with built-in transformers and lamps with dimmers or electronic switches (like those ones where you touch the base to turn it on/off) cannot be converted so simply.

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Posted

@slyvain: It aint as simple as that. Double the voltage means, double the amps flowing through it, since the filament is jsut like a resistor. Which means : good-bye bulb. You need to swtich the bulbs to 220V. But then, what about the bulb holders? they might be completely different and the german ones might not fit in the existing lamps.

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Posted

The only fun you could have is with lamps with dimmer switches in - there's many ways to make a bulb dim and some will not appreciate 230V through them, otherwise it's easy as the others have said.

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Posted

Okay, thanks for all the responses. Two of the lamps have simple rotary-click switches on the bulb holder/housing, so those sound like just a crimping of the wires and replacement of the plug (although the wiring is pretty old, so I may replace that as well).

 

However, the one lamp we REALLY want to bring over has a sliding-potentiometer dimmer built into the cord itself. Well, actually, the lamp itself has a regular two-prong plug (US) at the end of a short cord, which then plugs into the slider (which came with the lamp) and which then has its own long cord that plugs into the wall, also in two-prong (US) fashion. The rheostat box says this:

 

Model No: SC-233A

Appliance Control 98F3

120V AC, 50/60Hz, 600W 5A, Tungsten

 

Is this one also an easy fix for Germany? The lamp's bulb housing itself fits "standard" incandescent bulbs, no special bulbs needed.

 

Thanks again,

Mark

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Posted

Dimmer switches work off AC (not V) and can't tell the difference between the rates they just decide when it changes or "alternates" direction. A sliding switch won't be any problem.

 

Use cord adapters. (Unless you plan to move here forever then cut the plug and change it.)

 

Like they all said buy new light bulbs when you get here.

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Posted

What about Xmas lights? We were in Bauhaus and they want 35 Eurodollars for 100 lights!

 

Wally world sells them for like $2. What is up?

 

I assume I can't just plug a US xmas light string into a voltage converter. It makes me nervous (fire possibility?).

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Posted

Sorry if I am being pedantic here, but all I need is a plug adaptor? I do not need a voltage converter? The US wiring can handle the German voltage, so long as I am using German bulbs? I may not be an electrial engineer, but I do know that not all wiring is built the same. The last thing I need is to start a fire because my US wiring was too wimbly to handle the higher load of the German current (or maybe I am just showing my lack of EE education).

 

Again, thanks.

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Posted

LAMARK - Watts = Voltage * amperes. you can do the rest of the math.

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Posted

To be very simplistic, it's really not the wiring you are worried about. (unless the lamp is old, the wiring is frayed and is a fire danger anyway.)

 

A lamp has (in your case) 2 wires that lead from the source at the wall to the light bulb. It is very simple. (Then there is the dimmer which "turns off the source" for a bit of the cycle) Once again simple. (Unless of course that is a very old lamp with an old dimmer which heats up...)

 

What most people ask about are appliances with more complicated electrical parts. (And some of these you can plug in also no transformer but that's another topic)

 

I plugged all my lamps in, no problem.

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Posted

There seems to be a lot off nonsense in this post, just put German bulbs in the holders, if they fit, and new plugs, if you need to, and that's it.

 

Brownie stated Watts = Voltage * amperes. you can do the rest of the math. This is only true of a purely resitive circuit, as in the case of a lightbulb. However it becomes more complex when inductance and capatitance are involved

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Posted

My lamps from Canada all work fine with a small plug adapter that plugs into the cord and then then wall, of course with new light bulbs. I bought the adapters at Radio Shack before I moved here, really cheap too. ( these are the same you can buy n travel kits for different parts of the world for travelling)

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11278753#

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Posted

you need to check the device label. ensure it says something like 110-240v. otherwise you need the step up transformer. those transformers hum really badly.

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Posted

Replace the bulb to a German one (assuming you can find one that fits the holder) and get a plug adaptor to plug in the US one into the German socked. You dont need transformers for a table lamp.

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Posted

you need to check the device label. ensure it says something like 110-240v.

 

otherwise the cable will melt.

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Posted

If you are going to start messing about with wiring and electric cables and the like make sure you get a dire insurance beforehand PMSL

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